Brennan Takes Sports Philanthropy into his Own Hands

Roughriders 8th Grader, Brennan, has built himself an impressive resume. As a club lacrosse player with a passion for using sport for good, Brennan has taken sports philanthropy into his own hands from a young age.

LtN first heard from Brennan in the spring of 2018 when he requested to volunteer in our after-school programming with the Boys and Girls Club in Charlottesville. To summarize his experience, Brennan reflects:

“The women that I worked with [running LtN’s Charlottesville programs] were incredibly patient coaches, knowledgeable and professional as leaders of the volunteers. They showed me how to approach the very young students so that they could either fall for the sport of lacrosse in the same way that I have, or just have a fantastic time. I was given leadership opportunities to engage students, and frankly I got better with each chance that I was given.. I walked away from my experience a much better leader. I will 100% volunteer again this summer.”

While we were delighted to have Brennan as a volunteer who is enthusiastic and motivated about LtN’s mission, Brennan had more in mind. In the previous year, Brennan organized a lacrosse tournament to raise money and awareness of Sudden Cardiac Arrest. We were honored to receive word from Brennan after his volunteer experience in Charlottesville that he and his teammates decided to include Lacrosse the Nations in their 2018 Lacrosse My Heart event.

As a sport-for-development organization, we aim to be a catalyst for young leaders. By employing something that we all know and love - lacrosse - players, coaches, and fans can impact lives and create momentum for larger community involvement in philanthropy. We’re thrilled that LtN’s programs can stand alongside Lacrosse My Heart’s charity partners, but the true honor is promoting a cause that motivates youth to step up and lead others to action. In Brennan’s reflection of his event which took place this October, he stated:

“I am amazed at how much every guy stepped up to make a difference raising money for important organizations like Lacrosse the Nations and playing their hardest to make the crowd feel excited about the effort. It was a fantastic day.”

CJ Sets the Bar High as an LtN Ambassador

CJ first discovered LtN Costa Rica during a family vacation in Playa Potrero. From the moment he heard about LtN’s mission, he was ready to get involved. Since then, CJ has worked single-handedly throughout his spring season as an ambassador for our cause, raising awareness and funds for our programs. CJ topped off his spring efforts with a trip back to Playa Potrero to play lax with some old friends of LtN…

“It has been an exciting year working with LtN! I first learned about the organization while on vacation in Costa Rica with my family over a year ago. The philosophy of the program really hit home for me. I love lacrosse, so giving kids who are less fortunate than I am an opportunity to learn the game, plus enrich their lives academically, meant a lot.

“I spent my spring season reaching out to friends and family along with my club lacrosse coach to raise awareness and money to support Lacrosse the Nations. I was fortunate to raise over $1,100 for the organization. I then traveled to Costa Rica this past August to work with the kids involved in the local community center run by past LtN partner, Abriendo Mentes.

“The director of the program, Rachael, was amazing in helping set up the equipment and sending out announcements to the community that I would be there to play with the kids. I also worked with a man named Mario who heads up the computer classes at Abriendo Mentes. I had so much fun playing with the kids and also practicing my Spanish!

“Even though there was a language barrier, the love of the game made communicating easy.  It was an incredible experience which I hope to participate in again next summer. I also want to raise my goal in future fundraising for such a great organization. Thank you for the opportunity to be a part of LtN.”

CJ Boustany

A Letter of Thanks: Will Cogan on his Trip to Panama

My name is Will Cogan and I am a senior defenseman at Christopher Newport University. A few weeks ago, I was given the amazing opportunity to travel to Bocas del Toro, Panama to work with kids and spread the game that I love. I did this with teammates and members of the Washington & Lee men’s and women’s lacrosse team.

  Will and CNU teammate, Miles, coaching some beach lax in Bocas.

Will and CNU teammate, Miles, coaching some beach lax in Bocas.

This experience is something that I will never forget. In my 15 years of playing lacrosse, this was by far the most rewarding, humbling, and unforgettable experience I have had in the game of lacrosse. Each day we woke up with the opportunity to positively impact high schoolers and young kids with the game that we love so much. Knowing that every day would give us an opportunity to teach a game that these kids have never seen before seemed challenging at first, but once we had the stick in our hands it was just like any other day for us. We got to teach kids how to catch, throw, scoop ground balls, and even fun games like hungry hungry hippo. Whether it was at the local high school or at the Give & Surf community center on the beach it was a week filled with smiles, laughs, and a whole lot of fun.

  Will testing out his goalie skills alongside fellow volunteer and W&L Women's Coach, Erica.

Will testing out his goalie skills alongside fellow volunteer and W&L Women's Coach, Erica.

I want to express how thankful I am of the Lacrosse the Nations staff (Caroline and Brooke) and the Give & Surf staff (Drew and Taylor) for giving us such an amazing experience. Drew and Taylor taught us so much about the communities of Bocas and Bastimentos, and as took us on many adventures that I will never forget. Brooke and Caroline showed us that you do not need to speak the same language in order to connect with young kids and teach the game that we love.

I hope that LtN can continue to grow their programs in Bocas del Toro, and that it remains a place to go for years to come. I STRONGLY encourage any lacrosse player, coach, or fan to go on a trip with Lacrosse the Nations, to experience what its like to give back to a sport that has given us so much. Thank you LtN and Give & Surf.

 

- Will Cogan

CNU Mens Lacrosse '19

Your First Day of Lacrosse: LtN Supporter and Volunteer, Tony

September 27, 2017… My first day of lacrosse. 

Yes, you read the year correctly. I was 25 years old. My friends grew up playing lacrosse, but lacrosse was during track season, and my parents were not having it. After high school I went to the military for 6 years. When I got out I had the choice to stay with track which I had been my life, or play “the fastest sport on two feet”. I wanted to put that theory to the test…

September 27, the team president gave me his stick, a ball, and directed me to go play wall ball… first lesson I learned in lacrosse? Never take one ball to play wall ball. Needless to say the first round of wall ball was short.. I don’t think I caught the ball once that whole day. Less than 6 months later, I was starting on the wing, for The University of Miami. Short stick defensive middie. only player on the team that finished the season without spending 1 second in the penalty box. No, it's not because I rode the bench.

There were 2 moments when I knew that: “lax is life”. 

1: I was having an awful day.. went out side, threw the ball as hard as I could at the wall, kept stick extended in place, and ball came right back as if I was playing paddle ball. The sound the ball made when it smacked the back of my net had me hooked. The harder you throw the ball, the faster it comes back to you. There is no greater stress relief in sports than wall ball in lacrosse.

2: i was having problems with the GI bill paying for my school, someone broke my laptop and didn’t tell me, someone stole my phone and my wallet, someone rear ended my car making it non-drivable, and the army was not paying me for housing… hell was burning around me.. what did i I do? just played wall ball longer. 4 hours a day sometimes.. nothing better to do…. then i lost my stick, and the world stopped spinning. I had a panic attack. iPhone X: stolen, didn’t care. car: wrecked, didn’t care. Paychecks: weren’t coming, didn’t care. Laptop: broken, didn’t care. I could not even go have a beer with my friends because my ID was stolen, didn’t care…However, life without a stick, and no means to replace, it terrified me.

That was just 5 months after the day I started.

Today makes 10 months, not even a year, and I am in the process of relocating to Latin America in December to grow the game… lacrosse saved my life, set me free… through me, I am going to allow it to do the same for others.

(good thing this wasn’t “first goal”, or I wouldn’t have been able to contribute)

Your First Day of Lacrosse

Lacrosse the Nations is starting up a new campaign this week. It's called "Your First Day of Lacrosse."

It's in honor of our approaching trip to Panama, and the children we will have the privilege of working with down there. This will be the FIRST time these kids will ever see the game of lacrosse. Some may absolutely hate it, some will love it. "Your First Day of Lacrosse" is a campaign that's aimed to honor the moments of discovery that await these kids. And to reconnect all of YOU - LtN's supporters, donors, and believers - to this first moment of discovery for you: the first time you experienced something that you knew you'd love for the remainder of your life.

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When was the first time you ever saw a lacrosse stick?

Did you pick it up? Try and play?

Did you look on with admiration?

Did you sit there wondering what the heck those kids were using sticks to throw a ball around for?

No matter how familiar or how foreign the sport of lacrosse was to you, at one point in your life, on one day, it was something brand new and exciting - something that made you feel a certain way.

As we prepare to launch our pilot programs in Panama, I've started thinking a lot about what makes programs successful, what creates the best experience and provides the most benefit to those involved. I remembered back to when I was first introduced to the game of lacrosse, and how it made me feel to play on my very first day. It was tricky, it was cool, it was fun, and it was different. Within the first practice, I was able to pick up catching and throwing pretty easily, and I was pretty pumped as a little 5th grader showing off my skills to novice 6th and 7th graders. Lacrosse made me feel like no other sport had so far. As a young girl it gave me confidence and put a smile on my face. 

As I grew, so did my love for it - it became a way to socialize, to compete, to learn from and with others. It inevitably made me a better person, got me to an incredible college (Go 'Ders), and introduced me to people who have changed my life in every sense of the word. Lacrosse allowed me to travel to Nicaragua, where I learned more about myself in 13 months than I had thus far in my 22 years. During my time there I shared my every-day life with absolute strangers - incredible kids, families, and role models (@Normdaddy) that I would NEVER have met otherwise. I can trace so many of my attributes, so many of my favorite memories, so many of the most challenging but rewarding moments of my life back to my first day of lacrosse. 

"Your First Day of Lacrosse" is a campaign we are running over our social media from now until the end of our summer trips to Panama. We will be sharing stories of our players, staff members, volunteers, and friends on what they remember about their first day of lacrosse. We hope that you all will be able to use these stories to jog your own memory of your first days. Share these memories us. Post it and tag us, recount it with your friends, respond to this blog post, whatever you'd like! Remember your first day of lacrosse with admiration, and be sure to reflect on where you have come since that day. We will be asking our new kiddos in Panama these same questions after their first day of lacrosse, in hopes that this will be a time that they look back on one day with the same nostalgia and gratitude that we do.

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Young LtN Advocates Stay Active in Sports Philanthropy

It's always inspiring to see players take initiative to support something they care about. This year, we were honored to hear that LtN advocates and Amped lacrosse players Bray, Ben, Jasper, Jack and Drew wanted to organize an event to benefit LtN's mission from their own home town.

Amped lacrosse has been an incredible supporter of and contributor to the impact LtN's programs have from dedicating their club seasons, to donating their time to volunteer at our international sites. But this year, Bray, Ben, Jasper, Jack and Drew wanted to take their role in sport philanthropy to the next level. Last month, these guys organized a youth lacrosse camp in Norfolk, VA -  not only to share their love and knowledge of the game with youth in their community, but also to benefit young players they have come to know in our Nicaraguan communities. By organizing, promoting, and coaching the camp, these players have done more than help grow the game - they have united the lacrosse communities countries apart.

Amped player, Bray, reflected on his experience the day of the camp: 

This clinic was something that I was lucky and grateful to be a part of, and it was a blast running it. The clinic benefited two things crucial to lacrosse and the lacrosse community. It helped spread the game to those who haven’t been around it and it benefited a large nonprofit organization that has a international impact on less fortunate people in the lacrosse community.

This clinic was a great learning experience for me. It helped me learn some of the great things that Lacrosse the Nations does, along with the logistics of putting together an large event. From insurance, to public relations, the clinic was a long, thought-out process that I couldn’t have put together without the help, teaching, and advising of those around me. In the end, it worked out well. We raised over $500 for Lacrosse the Nations and raised awareness for what Lacrosse the Nations does all over Hampton Roads. It was truly an honor to be able to run this clinic. 

- Bray Hollowell

Bray not only took the lead on the behind-the scenes tasks of the clinic, but he pulled together other local guys not playing for Amped yet committed to the cause of Lacrosse the Nations that want to help them with the clinic. He even recruited Amped alumni players to join in.  It's amazing how quickly the lacrosse community in Norfolk acme to together in support of the boys' efforts.  It resulted in an evening full of fun, laughter and the joining of some incredible causes.

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Becoming an Ambassador for Lacrosse the Nations' Mission

Here at LtN, we live and breath by our supporters. The passion behind the work we do is amplified by those who believe in our mission. We've witnessed the power you all have to make a change in others' lives through your belief in sport as a vehicle to do good. As witnesses to this power, we created Team LtN - a community made up of people across the country; not connected by lacrosse, but by the feeling they get when they see a kid discover their favorite sport for the first time, by their excitement in building meaningful relationships, by their understanding that there is more out there to give then to get. 

Team LtN members are ambassadors for our cause, raising awareness and funds for Lacrosse the Nations' programs. Often, raising funds for a cause can seem daunting or a chore-like. At Lacrosse the Nations, we equip our ambassadors to fundraise with activities they know and love. Check out these ideas below and see how fun it can be to spread LtN's mission as a part of Team LtN:

1. Youth Lacrosse Camp
If your team is in high school or college, put your skills to use and coordinate a youth lacrosse camp! Local elementary or middle school children often look up to older athletes and would be thrilled to spend the day learning new tricks. Hosting a youth camp can both raise money and educate children about sports, exercise, and healthy expression.

2. Food Truck Festival
We’re sure many of your team’s supporters show up to your games hungry. Is there a big tournament coming up? Reach out to food trucks in your area to attend. You can charge entrance into the festival, and the trucks can still charge their normal prices inside. Pro tip: find food trucks of all cuisines so everyone can find something to snack on!

3. Shoot-a-thon
For this fundraiser, you’ll need to rent a radar gun (or ask someone to donate one for the day). Measure how fast each of your participants can throw a lacrosse ball, and give a prize to the winner! You can charge a small fee per attempt (try $5). You’ll be amazed at how competitive participants will get!

4. Parents vs. Kids Match
Set up a night where your team’s parents play against your team. A bit of family friendly competition is totally fine when it’s for a great cause! Charge for entry to the game as well as snacks throughout the game. Provide a trophy for the winning team and host the event annually. You’ll easily get some lax dads willing to compete against their kids!

Ready to host your own fundraiser? Lacrosse the Nations uses an online platform that allows you to sell tickets while managing and tracking donations. You can simply shoot us an email, and we will help you set everything up! However, if you're a do-it-yourselfer, you could use a number of nonprofit registration platforms.


Spread the Word: As an advocate for our mission, use your power to tell others about Lacrosse the Nations. Make sure to be following our social media platforms (@laxthenations) and use the hashtag #TeamLtN!

To go the extra mile, garner support for Lacrosse the Nations through a one-to-one text messaging tool! Texting your supporters is a great way to build awareness, get feedback, and notify others about your upcoming events. Direct and genuine communication is the best way to create impact for LtN.

No matter what you do as a member of Team LtN, you are spreading the power of sport in ways we never could without you. When you are passionate about a mission, as we are with ours, that passion permeates in incredible ways.

Higher Education in Nicaragua

Today is National Higher Education Day! This day is used as a platform to encourage young students to pursue higher education, and to promote ways to tackle the challenges of receiving a degree. Here at LtN, promoting education is our priority, as the majority of the communities we work with struggle to access quality education from a young age.

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In Nicaragua, the concept of higher education is almost mystical. UNICEF reports that 29% of males, and 30.5% of females in Nicaragua never even attend primary school (elementary through 6th grade). The numbers only get worse as children age - with a staggering 65% of boys and 58% of girls not continuing on to secondary school (6th grade through high school).

Higher education is not a reality for many, as most cannot afford costs and Nicaraguan universities that are free are extremely competitive, offering limited spots. These challenges are compounded by the pressure boys receive to work instead of attending school so that they can support their families, and the assumption that girls will stay at home to watch younger siblings and take care of the house. Moreover, many young girls struggle to stay in school due to teen pregnancy - Nicaragua has highest rate of teenage births in Latin America and the highest in the world outside of Africa.

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Student who participate in our lacrosse programs are some of the few who receive encouragement to pursue higher eduction.  LtN's programs use sport as a motivator for kids to attend and to do well in school. Through LtN's scholarship program, students' are eligible to receive school supplies and uniforms. This program relieves pressure on families to tackle the costs of sending their kids to school.

Through our LtN Scholar program, those who display exemplary behavior, are leaders on the field, and work at their studies have the opportunity to become an LtN Scholar.  As an LtN Scholar, students work for LtN as a coach so that they can still support their families while attending university classes to continue their education. This way, our scholars are able to take the time to complete their degree, move out of the lacrosse world into a professional career, and become a resource and a role model within their communities.

We would like to take this day to acknowledge our incredible LtN Scholars in Nicaragua and all of the hard work and dedication they put in, not only to developing young lives through our programs, but taking initiative to better their own situations and pursue their full potential. Join us in celebrating our amazing scholars on this year's National Higher Education Day:

  Freddy    Studying English at the Nicaraguan Academy of Languages

Freddy 

Studying English at the Nicaraguan Academy of Languages

  Darien   Studying Bio-Analysis at The American University

Darien

Studying Bio-Analysis at The American University

  Alexander  (newest staff member!)  Studying English at the International Lincoln English Center

Alexander (newest staff member!)

Studying English at the International Lincoln English Center

  Luis   Completing their Licensure in Physical Education from the Nicaragua Institute of Sports

Luis

Completing their Licensure in Physical Education from the Nicaragua Institute of Sports

  David   Completing his Licensure in Physical Education at The Nicaragua Institute of Sports

David

Completing his Licensure in Physical Education at The Nicaragua Institute of Sports

  Juan   Completing his Licensure in Physical Education at The Nicaragua Institute of Sports

Juan

Completing his Licensure in Physical Education at The Nicaragua Institute of Sports

New PD, Lou, Reflects on his First Month in Nicaragua

Short-term Program Director (PD), Lou Lillelund, began his journey in Nicaragua on March 1st. Lou is from Copenhagen, Denmark and a member of the Danish National Team. Lou's decision to take a gap year after finishing his secondary education with the International-Baccalaureate Diploma Program is what brought him to Lacrosse the Nations in Nicaragua! Lou has done an incredible job jumping head in to LtN’s programs, helping at both practices and at LtN tutoring sessions. From day one, Lou fit right into the family. This week, we asked Lou to reflect on his first month down in programs. Here’s what he had to say:

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“After slightly over a month of volunteering for LtN in Nicaragua. Saying that my time here has been an experience I will never forget would be an understatement. As there are five different lacrosse programs in total: two co-ed practices (advanced and beginner) at each of our two schools, plus a girls’ practice at Chiquilistagua (aka Chiqui), I get to play and help out with actual lacrosse around 20-25 hours a week. In addition to lacrosse practices, every Monday I have the privilege of tutoring some of the players at Chiqui before afternoon practice. Each program has its own unique charm as the kids and coaches that I work with at each program vary.

“The advanced practices are lots of fun – helping Coach Maycol at Club Hope and Coach Juan at Chiqui and playing fast-paced lacrosse with the kids. The beginner practices are equally as enjoyable, whether I am helping at the Club with Norman coach the kids (who seem to literally never run out of energy) or I am with my other PDs Susan, Andrew, and Matt helping Coach David teach our kids at Chiqui.

“I even get to help out Coach Darien along with PDs Susan and Jackie in LtN’s girls’ program. Seeing the smiles on Naomi’s, Allison’s, and the rest of the girls faces when they catch a ball or score a goal is an incredibly rewarding experience. Overall, I’m grateful to say that I’ve already made priceless relationships with both the coaches and players, of which I am truly excited to see develop throughout these subsequent months.”

 

 Coaches Freddy and David with PD, Lou, and Chiqui beginner players at morning lacrosse practice in Nicaragua.

Coaches Freddy and David with PD, Lou, and Chiqui beginner players at morning lacrosse practice in Nicaragua.

Deportistas - One Year in the Making!

Happy International Women’s Day 2018 from our deportistas (female athletes) in Nicaragua!

Last International Women’s Day, LtN had just started up its girls-only program down in Nicaragua - spurred by the addition of boys’ equipment to our co-ed practices, the presence of a female program director and strong female coach, Darien, along with a donation of women’s equipment from Princeton Lacrosse.

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Our girls-only program started out with former program director, Brooke Wilson, spending time at Chiquilistagua public school during recess. After teaching English class in the school, Brooke would bring out the donated women’s equipment to pass around with anyone who showed interest. In our first blog post about starting the program, Brooke reflected on her efforts.

The creation of a women’s program will take some time. Interest for the sport needs to grow organically – similarly to how we started our co-ed programs years back. I spend time at Chiquilistagua on Monday and Thursday afternoons, so that girls can join during recess or come outside of the co-ed practice time to receive girl-specific instruction. Right now, we have five girls who have been attending outside of co-ed participants, with new ones showing interest.

And show interest they did! Looking back a year from today, we have so many moments to attribute the establishment of the current girls’ program to…

Thanks to three groups of amazing female players coming down this past summer (shout out to Richmond Women’s Lacrosse, Code Lacrosse, and CNU Women’s Lacrosse), we were able to recruit new players for the program, give one-on-one instruction in a practice setting, and show the girls how fun lacrosse can be. The ability of the U.S. women’s players from our summer groups to connect with, teach, and serve as role models for our young girls became the catalyst for the program’s launch.

  "I love being a coach because I enjoy spending time with the girls and getting to know each one of them. I love seeing how excited they are to play lacrosse! I hope the program continues growing and that we can expand to other schools."

"I love being a coach because I enjoy spending time with the girls and getting to know each one of them. I love seeing how excited they are to play lacrosse! I hope the program continues growing and that we can expand to other schools."

Additionally, at the close of last summer, Darien, along with our other Nicaraguan coaches, received comprehensive coaching training from STICK WITH IT! Lacrosse, who visited LtN’s sites in early September. Thanks to Stick With It’s training program, Coach Darien was equipped with more drills, expanded leadership skills, and heightened confidence as she has stepped up into the head coaching role.

This year, the program now runs full force! Instead of impromptu recess sessions, the girls formally practice three times a week, with an hour-long practice before school on Monday mornings. With 28 girls attending each week, Darien leads practices with Program Director, Susan Hyman as her assistant. LtN’s girls-only program not only provides these young ladies with their own space to play, learn, and develop life skills; it will also, hopefully, begin to provide them with sessions from a guest speaker this season!

Peace Corps member and former lacrosse player, Brynn Miller, is looking to feature Peace Corps’ curriculum focusing on female empowerment within Nicaragua’s machismo culture. Brynn approached LtN when looking for a platform to introduce her curriculum, expressing that a sport-focused environment is an ideal space to hold discussions concerning self-confidence and positive relationships with others. The aim will be to incorporate this curriculum into Coach Darien’s training, in order for these discussions to continue in our practices for years to come.

As you can see, LtN has a lot to be celebrating on this International Women’s Day! The addition of our girls-only programming has expanded LtN’s reach and continues to spread the impact sport is having on our youth.

LtN to Scale Back Programming in Costa Rica

Dear LtN Community,

As 2017 came to a close, LtN staff and the Board of Directors took some time to evaluate LtN’s presence and impact at each of our sites. After some long and hard discussions, we have decided to reduce programming at our site in Playa Potrero, Costa Rica. This was an extremely tough decision to come to; however, considering a number of factors limiting LtN’s growth in Potrero at this time, along with our current resources, it was one that had to be made.

LtN has provided children in Playa Potrero with opportunities to engage in positive and organized extracurricular outlets since 2012. Members of the Potrero community, partners in Costa Rica programming, and supporters of our efforts in Costa Rica will forever remain a part of the LtN family. While our on-site programming will be limited, LtN is committed to our students-athletes in Potrero. We will continue providing scholarships in Potrero through our LtN scholars program, and hope that in the future we can return with more resources and ways to support the LtN Costa Rica community. Please feel free to email info@lacrossethenations.org for any questions or concerns.

Thank you for your continuous support,

Javier Silva

MLL's Adam Ghitelman and Scott Ratliff Return to Nica

Atlanta Blaze players Adam Ghitelman and Scott Ratliff took their first trip to Nicaragua in January of 2017. From sharing things they knew like that back of their hand - coaching new concepts and playing lacrosse with our LtN student athletes - to diving head in to things they didn't - Nicaraguan language, food, culture, and our style of lax - it was incredible to see the impressions they left on our kids. These impressions were mutual it seems, as they returned this December for another dose of Nica lacrosse, getting to see many familiar faces and meet new ones along the way. LtN players and programming in Nicaragua have developed significantly since these two's last visit, in part because of the amazing guests who come to share their experience like Adam and Scott. After their trip, goalie, Adam reflected on his time in LtN programs:

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"It was wonderful to return for our second visit to Nicaragua to work with Lacrosse the Nations. Our first visit developed such a sense of attachment and love for the positives that the program created, we couldn't wait to return for our second time. We were so excited to see a number of familiar faces, all of whom looked like that they had improved both as lacrosse players and personally. The players had all improved their individual games, and the chemistry and teamwork of the program continues to blossom. The passes are sharper, the stick skills are impressive, and overall IQ is through the roof. The kids all play together for a common goal and the commitment to the team is tremendous.

It was really great to see the numbers increase. Another great characteristic of the program is to see players moving up into leadership roles as coaches and coach assistants. Those players who continue to behave and work to become better people have shown tremendous development and leadership on and off the field."

 

It is incredible to be able to work with others who witness and share in our mission. Utilizing the power of sport, perhaps seemingly simple, continues to be an avenue to bridge connections and share in all the benefits of play. Thank you, Adam and Scott, for your time and we hope to see you down in Nicaragua for many years to come!

LtN to Scale Back Programming in Costa Rica

Dear LtN Community,

As 2017 came to a close, LtN staff and the Board of Directors took some time to evaluate LtN’s presence and impact at each of our sites. After some long and hard discussions, we have decided to reduce programming at our site in Playa Potrero, Costa Rica. This was an extremely tough decision to come to; however, considering a number of factors limiting LtN’s growth in Potrero at this time, along with our current resources, it was one that had to be made.

LtN has provided children in Playa Potrero with opportunities to engage in positive and organized extracurricular outlets since 2012. Members of the Potrero community, partners in Costa Rica programming, and supporters of our efforts in Costa Rica will forever remain a part of the LtN family. While our on-site programming will be limited, LtN is committed to our students-athletes in Potrero. We will continue providing scholarships in Potrero through our LtN scholars program, and hope that in the future we can return with more resources and ways to support the LtN Costa Rica community. Please feel free to email info@lacrossethenations.org for any questions or concerns.

Thank you for your continuous support,

Javier Silva

LtN Welcomes New U.S. Staff Member, Brooke Wilson!

LtN HQ Welcomes New Staff Member!

We are beyond excited to announce the growth our LtN staff with the addition of our very own Communications and Development Director, Brooke Wilson! Brooke joined our U.S. based staff at the start of January. She brings all the right kind of knowledge, fresh out of her year volunteering as a program director for LtN in Nicaragua. While in Central America, Brooke handled on-site communications for LtN and started the first girls-only program in Nica. It is here that Brooke fell in love with LtN’s mission and community.

 

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Brooke hails from Frederick, Maryland, where she first started playing and later coaching lacrosse. Brooke earned her B.A. in Healthcare Studies from the University of Richmond while playing for the women’s varsity team. Brooke’s passion for the spread of lacrosse and the development of LtN programming and communities is unparalleled. She will be taking over all things communications-related along with helping develop stronger and more expansive partnerships for the organization. When asked about her new position, Brooke commented, “I am so excited to be able to continue working with LtN in such a new and dynamic role. From my time volunteering for the organization abroad I have come to know the passion and dedication that each member of the LtN staff brings to their work each and every day. It’s an honor to be able to continue working for the cause and contribute to the growth of LtN.”

 

We are so excited to have Brooke on board and cannot wait to see all that she accomplishes. Welcome to the LtN family, Brooke!

LtN Programs in Charlottesville Flourish Thanks to LtN Club at UVA

Lacrosse the Nations at the University of Virginia started off strong this past August with the executive board recruiting over 15 new members to join the club. Our efforts for the semester focused on balancing between fundraising for the annual LtN Cup and youth volunteering efforts, namely the recurring six-week long lacrosse program held at the Boys and Girls Club of Charlottesville on Cherry Avenue. Because of the success of the Cherry Avenue program in past years, and with the new influx of volunteer members, a new program was extended to the Boys and Girls Club at Jouett Middle School through outreach with their program director. From the first week of October to the week before Thanksgiving, around four to five volunteers traveled to each Boys and Girls Club every week - Cherry Avenue on Tuesdays, Jouett on Fridays. For a time frame about an hour and a half, our volunteer coaches focused on getting to know the kids that frequently attended the program, while teaching them basic lacrosse skills, ultimately providing a new sport-related platform that allowed them to build their individual characters. Our Club at UVA plans to repeat this same six-week program in the spring of 2018, at both Boys and Girls Clubs, with hopes of adding multiple pop-up clinics during the spring that would be open to all Charlottesville youth community members. 

 

In volunteering at the Clubs, we also realized that the equipment the Clubs had on hand were in pretty rough shape - some sticks had broken heads, others had ancient mesh. Lacrosse the Nations has generously offered to help with providing new sticks to replace these old and worn-down sticks that the Boys and Girls Club currently has in supply.

 

Fundraising for the LtN Cup within our Club at UVA was done primarily through individual efforts - and proved to be an amazingly successful endeavor. Of the over $1300 raised, the majority of what was raised came from individual members’ outreach to family, friends, and members of the lacrosse community. In addition to these individual efforts, a lump amount of $500 was also contributed through older funds raised from a 5k race and several student restaurant nights hosted by LtN at UVA. We hope to expand our fundraising to involve the club men and women’s lacrosse teams at UVA, and even local high school teams, in order to further solidify the Charlottesville lacrosse community.

 

Future plans for our Club, other than continuing our current volunteering and fundraising efforts, also include promotional and educational events to not only promote our organization, but to also educate UVA students on how to involve themselves in international service in an effective and worthwhile manner. Whether this is accomplished through an open seminar, guest speakers, or a university-wide presentation, we hope that our club can prove to not only be a fundamental piece of the international Lacrosse the Nations presence, but also a model for other college organizations with a focus on local and international service.

My summer with LtN in Charlottesville, VA

by Annie Cory

It is hard to encapsulate the numerous experiences I had working with Lacrosse the Nations in Charlottesville, VA. Hopefully, I will be able to give you just a glimpse of what it was like to watch the kids grow, learn and get better at the sport I love.

To preface my summer as the LtN intern in Charlottesville, I would like to share a little bit about myself. I am a rising sophomore at Princeton University where I am a member of the Women’s Lacrosse Team. I grew up in and went to high school in Charlottesville and have been involved with LtN for over 5 years. My involvement and commitment to LtN has taken many forms: fundraising, organizing 4v4 tournaments, sponsoring a team in the LtN Cup, running gear drives, and even travelling on a service trip to LtN in Nicaragua. Most recently, I have been serving LtN as their summer intern, working alongside Natalie Wood, the Program Director in Charlottesville and of course, Javier (LtN's Executive Director). During my first year at college I was constantly thinking of ways to continue my support of LtN and its mission. At every opportunity, as new gear shipments came flowing into our locker room,  I encouraged my teammates to donate their “gently-used” equipment to LtN and I rounded up goggles, cleats, goalie pads, and sticks. So, when contemplating what I was going to do this summer, LtN was always on my mind. One morning, while sitting at my desk checking email, I received notification of an endowed fellowship sponsored by the University’s PACE Center for Civic Service. The fellowship, a design-your-own internship in conjunction with an organization/mentor, became immediately synonymous with Lacrosse the Nations for me. I think I called my mom first, and then instantly called Javier. In two short days, I was interviewing for the fellowship, and only a few short weeks later, I had been accepted as a John C. Bogle ‘51 Fellow for the summer. And this is what brought me back to Charlottesville to enrich my service to LtN and help to ensure the future success of the domestic programs that LtN has been fostering ever since my initial involvement.

This summer in Charlottesville has not always been smooth sailing, but once we worked out some of the kinks, we saw great improvement. The enthusiasm and engagement that resulted from a more structured curriculum and more directed implementation of life lessons only enriched the experience of every player and made their progress that much more perceptible to our coaching staff.

It was a rewarding experience to see growth in the players that we worked with this summer. We got to see them progress from catching their first pass, to scoring their first goal, to playing successful defense and beyond. To see someone else excel at a sport that has brought me so much success is transformative and heart warming. For me, though, an even more rewarding experience was to watch how the players’ demeanor changed throughout our 6 weeks of lacrosse practices. At the beginning, some players lacked focus or enthusiasm and were easily frustrated by the difficulty of mastering fundamental lacrosse skills. By the end, every player demonstrated enthusiasm, willpower and determination; these qualities quickly translated to success on the lacrosse field. This was obvious to the coaches and I think it was obvious to the other players as well. It was so exciting to see the scrimmages progress from a scrum of players all going after the same ground-ball to a more organized offense with kids getting open off cuts, calling for the ball, and everyone marking up on defense.

Overall, the combination of progress in attitude and progress on the lacrosse field made for an overwhelmingly successful summer. Implementing a full six week organized practice scheme, with life lessons and lacrosse drills included, helped to bring structure and success to the players and coaches. We are extremely excited to see the continued success of the Charlottesville programs as a number of UVA students carry out the life lessons and practice plans in the fall and we hope to see similar success at LtN programs in other parts of the US.

Player Spotlight: Guissell

Meet this month's spotlight player, Guissell! Guissell started playing lacrosse in Nicaragua alongside her older brother, Ariel, three years ago. Guissell is one of our most dedicated players. Despite her brother's inability to attend practices due to his university commitments, Guissell has attended close to every practice this past year. Guissell constantly exhibits a love for the game. She actively asks to help coach new players and is the first one to put on her equipment and jump on the field. Guissell plans to attend university after graduating high school this year. 

Age: 16

Year in school: 11th grade

Favorite Class: Physics

Favorite part of Lacrosse: Learning new drills and activities at practice

Something you have learned from lacrosse: "I've learned that if you respect your teammates they will in turn give you respect."

 

Intern Spotlight: Returning to Nicaragua

When I visited Nicaragua two years ago for a short two weeks, I knew immediately that I had to return. At the time, I was visiting my sister who was a program director for Manna Project International. While she was very busy running her own programs, I had the pleasure to shadow Javier Silva, now Executive Director of Lacrosse the Nations and see what lacrosse looked like in Nicaragua. I had just graduated high school and was committed to play Division I lacrosse at the University of Richmond, so I was extremely eager to see what the game of lacrosse looked like abroad and hopefully spread my knowledge and love for the game to others.

 

I was able to attend all of the LTN practices, mostly helping out at Chiquilistagua practices in the morning, where I participated in all of the gym classes and at Club Hope where I played in drills and games with the kids. Despite taking Spanish classes throughout high school, it was a little difficult to communicate. However, I found the language barrier was not a problem when I was playing. I had no idea what to expect when arriving to Nicaragua, and was pleasantly surprised to find out that the kids were extremely talented. Although there was limited equipment, the kids showed up every day eager to learn and always playing their hardest.

 

Fast forward two years later, I feel so incredibly grateful to return for the month as an intern for LTN and MPI and continue to build the relationships I made two years ago. Roberto was among one of the kids that I met during my initial visit and was excited to be reunited with. I admired him for his smart, unselfish play, and was excited to see how much he has improved. With limited Spanish two years ago, we formed our relationship through playing together. Since my Spanish has improved, I am able to coach him and give him tips. He is now in the advanced group of Club Hope, and admired by all the younger players.

 

While my first experience in Nicaragua was certainly eye opening, the progression of the lacrosse programs has been by far the best part of my experience here thus far. Although it has been amazing to see how the fields, equipment, and programs have improved, the most rewarding part has been able to see how much the players skills have progressed and the new relationships I have been able to create. To see the way lacrosse has impacted these kids lives over the years, the relationships and friendships that they have made, and to see that their love for the game is still alive and stronger than ever, makes me extremely grateful to be apart of LTN.

 Julie helping teach the basics of dodging alongside Coach Maycol during Club Hope's beginner practice.

Julie helping teach the basics of dodging alongside Coach Maycol during Club Hope's beginner practice.